WITH the sun shining brightly and the Solent glistening, the stage was set for a weekend of action-packed racing.
Portsmouth did not disappoint as tens of thousands of people headed to Southsea to cheer on Sir Ben Ainslie and his Great Britain Land Rover BAR team.
Soaring across the Solent, the six crews wowed the crowds with their tactics, speed and tight turns to try and get in pole position.
And their efforts prevailed in putting on a show in what spectators called a perfect amphitheatre.
The races were tense with every team fighting to get ahead and the crowd were impressed with what they saw.
Despite a lack of wind in the earlier races, the skills of the crew to get their catamarans around the race course thrilled the thousands of people watching.
On Saturday, the audience along the Southsea shoreline cheered on Sir Ben encouraging the team to push on and finish first place in the second and final races of the day.
As he came into the finish line of the third race, Southsea exploded with the shouts, cheering and clapping of the home crowd.
And the cheers carried on as the score board appeared and Land Rover BAR sat joint top with Groupama Team France on 26 points.
Sunday’s racing saw Sir Ben polish up the victory with one win and two second-place victories to pip arch rivals Oracle Team USA to the series win by a point.
Southsea makes for a perfect amphitheatre. You can see so much of the course.Scott Crawshaw
The third race proved to be a nail-biter with Land Rover BAR just being pipped to the finish, but the crowd didn’t mind as they roared Sir Ben’s team to the finish, knowing they were victorious overall in the regatta.
Roger Loosley, from Guildford, was impressed with the view from the shoreline. He said: ‘The whole day was very good and the racing was fantastic.
‘It has been excellent. The weather definitely helped to make the day that extra bit better.
‘All the races were very exciting and it was great to see Sir Ben win. The view from Southsea was very good – you could see a lot of the action.’
Canadian Scott Crawshaw said the viewing area near Castle Field created a perfect amphitheatre.
He also attended last year’s America’s Cup event in Portsmouth having moved to Fareham two days before the start of the event.
On this year’s racing, he said: ‘It was wonderful. I enjoyed last year’s America’s Cup so much that I definitely wanted to come back again.
‘It was amazing and the racing was interesting. It makes it exciting that they can chose any course they want as you never know what might happen.’
Scott added: ‘Southsea makes for a perfect amphitheatre. You can see so much of the course.’
Father and son Andrew and Arran Goodman agreed. Andrew, from Wickham, said: ‘It makes for great viewing.
‘It was very good to sit in the sunshine and watch all the action. Seeing Sir Ben win the second and third races on Saturday was brilliant.’
Arran, who was a flag bearer for the French crew, added: ‘It was a great day and the racing was brilliant.’